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O.K. So That Went Well – The Leslie Jones 'SNL' Controversy

by Sergio
May 5, 2014 5:29 PM
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Leslie Jones

So many have been talking about this past weekend’s Saturday Night Live episode, with guest host Andrew Garfield of The Amazing Spider Man movies, calling it one of the best episodes in a long time, and especially that Beyonce revenge skit with Garfield, which some are calling “one of the greatest SNL skits ever. I have to admit it was pretty damn funny (and dare I say pretty accurate as well…at least to me).

However, things have not been going well for Leslie Jones, one of SNL’s new writers, who was hired after the brouhaha over the show's lack of diversity.

Jones appeared on the weekly SNL news segment, portraying herself as an image expert, during which she talked about Lupita Nyong’o’s recent honor as this year’s Most Beautiful Person by People Magazine.

However, Jones’ skit went sort of “off key, so to speak, and, to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what the point of it was, except for Jones to make fun of her own looks, and talk about slavery in a comical context. 

Now I’m a firm believer that anything can be used for humor if it’s done right (or tasteless enough), but Jones’ jokes fell completely flat.

Needless to say, the Black Twitter and Facebook universes went ablaze, criticizing Jones for the bit, calling it outdated, misogynist, offensive, unfunny, and some even suggesting that Jones actually did not write the material herself, and that it was probably the work of the white writers on the show.

Jones, however, obviously upset with the negative reaction, fired back at her critics on Twitter, defending the bit in a lengthy series of tweets, which follows below:

“... saddens me that BLACK PEOPLE bitch and moan about the stupid shit. I’m a comic and it is my job to take things and make them funny to make you think, especially the painful things. Why are y’all so mad? This joke was written from the pain that one night I realized that black men don’t really fuck with me and why I am single. And that in slave days I would have always have a man cause of breeding."

She went on to say...

“If anybody should be offended it’s white folks cause it’s what they did. Y’all so busy trying to be self righteous you miss what the joke really is. Very sad I have to defend myself to black people. Now I’m betting if Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle did that joke or Jay Z or Kanye in a rap they would be called brilliant. cause they all do this type of material. Just cause it came from a strong black women who ain’t afraid to be real, y’all mad."

And still she went on…

“So here is my announcement black folks, you won’t stop me from and I’m gonna go even harder and deeper now. cause it’s a shame that we kill each other instead of support each other. This is exactly why black people re where we are now cause we too fucking sensitive and instead of making lemonade of our lemons we just suck the sour juice from the lemons."

And that wasn’t even all of it. She continued on after the above tirade (you can read her entire Twitter rant HERE).

Take a look at the SNL bit in case you missed it, and then tell us who you think is right here? Jones, or the people who criticized her?

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  • Rahl | May 11, 2014 6:06 PMReply

    It just wasn't funny. I didn't even notice anything wrong with the sketch until I googled who the hell Leslie Jones was. Not really insulting and people who complain about such things shouldn't watch comedy. Ever notice it is the people without a sense of humour that complain? They get sent these by other people who like watching SNL but never watch themselves.

  • MichelleToo | May 9, 2014 3:25 AMReply


    I know why she did what she did. And I have seen her stand up before and she makes lots of jokes about her appearance and not getting a man and what not.

    That said, please, please, please, please lets be clear about rape. Forcing two people to have sex so that they can procreate is RAPE. Forcing a man to have sex with a woman is rape. Forcing a woman to have sex with a man is rape. Forcing two people to have sex with other, all the while knowing that any children will be sold is like rape to some unknown exponential factor. So lets not say that she wasn't joking about rape, cause she was. And it is sad that people are ignorant of the facts and actually use that to defend her.

    There was a way to make the jokes less crude and more sophisticated. It would have been funnier if she were this beautiful, refined, polished character instead of a loud, more grating type of delivery. And if we wanna put Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle in the mix, there is an elegance to their delivery that she happens to lack. Not bad or wrong, but perhaps that might be part of the difference. But I concede that sexism is at play.

    Lastly, she uses Lupita as a jumping board into her own self deprecation. Black women around the globe are reveling in the moment that is Lupita. Don't use her moment as a jump off point, because it isn't quite accurate. If Lupita were just some chick from Yale who hadn't gotten the role of a lifetime and she and her girls (all Black) strolled into a random club in LA they would get NO PLAY! And the irony of ironies is that Lupita played a super slave who could pick all kinds of cotton. Did any one see the movie?

    And isn't it Madinga not Mandingo?

  • James | May 7, 2014 11:19 AMReply

    Funny stuff!

    Two points. Black male comedians have been joking about slavery for decades with impunity. And this was not about rape. It was about being matched to "superior Black male specimens". This is the kind of routine you hear in a comedy club regularly. (I know. My son is a comedian. I think she's a talent to watch.

  • getthesenets | May 6, 2014 6:45 PMReply

    not funny......wasn't funny when ellen cleghorne did variations of this joke in the 1990s..either

  • al | May 6, 2014 7:53 AMReply

    The irony of her joking about why she does not have a man today by noting that it's for the same reason that would have made her desireable "back in the day" is probably rooted in a great deal of truth and that makes people uncomfortable. 6ft tall dark skinned women with strong features do not generally appear on magazine covers. Can anyone deny that slaves possessing traits that slave owners found desireable were forced to breed?

  • 9jah | May 6, 2014 3:59 PM

    You have a point in that, she has to deal with the consequence of her God-given appearance and not the rest of the high-horse riders, and I appreciate her on tis point. That said, its sad that mining her experience of essence for creative inspiration about desirability, the best she could come up with is the most reductive possible thing, i.e. her slave desirability.

    Another point which must be made is they are obviously women that look like her in Africa -- they are also women of all other races that look like her in terms of exaggerated height, features etc. (eleanor roosevelt comes to mind) -- but your disposition and comport counts for massive lots. Every woman has a femininity and can find it and celebrate it and would be surprised how much more desirable such person becomes.

  • Rocket | May 6, 2014 1:22 PM


    Considering that rape is about power just about any slave could be forced to breed. "Desireable-ness" be damned. The point of rape is subject one to your power, not to confirm their attractiveness.

    All that being said, when will people realize that this whole SNL fiasco is a joke. They added black women cast members and writers only after their arm was twisted. Why are people surprised that this is the kind of material they produce?

  • marcus g | May 6, 2014 8:40 AM

    Look, I love a big booty with kooky relaxed hair just as much as the next positive militant, but loud jabbering mouths who think they got jokes are where I draw the line.

  • b | May 5, 2014 8:24 PMReply

    Black women were raped wth such frequency during 250 years of slavery that sub-races were created. Slavery and the sexual objectifying of black women during this nightmare is nothing to joke about. EVER!

  • slb | May 5, 2014 8:16 PMReply

    My concern with the bit is, it wasn't funny. Bottom line. It's not that I didn't find the subject matter funny. I think humor can be born out of terrible circumstances like slavery. One of my favorite Chappelle's Show bits is "The Time Haters" when the haters went back in time to hate on slave masters. I'm laughing now thinking about that bit. But I digress, her Weekend Update appearance just was not funny. And when you take on something like slavery you gotta make sure it's funny.

    I do have another concern with how the black performers are used on the show. I know she's a writer and not a performer, but this applies to her appearance as well. It seems like most times the black cast members are featured in a sketch, the premise or the jokes are based on Black stereotypes. It's as if they can't write funny sketches with the Black cast members that aren't based on a black stereotype. Why can't they just create funny characters? I don't see the white cast members performing in sketches that trade on "white" stereotypes. But it seems to happen with much frequency with the black cast members.

    But I'd be interested to hear what others think.

  • Marie | May 6, 2014 10:01 AM

    I completely agree with you. I think there's a level of creative laziness involved with focusing on black stereotypes and not exploring our complete humanity.

  • Miles Ellison | May 5, 2014 8:34 PM

    I think you're right. The problem is that when it comes to black comedy these days, stereotypes are the default. To do stereotypical humor and have it actually be funny requires some level of wit, which in the case of SNL has been missing for the better part of 2 decades.

  • Damon | May 5, 2014 8:00 PMReply


  • Solid | May 5, 2014 6:13 PMReply

    That was funny as hell...and I don't even watch SNL...she made it clear she didn't want to be a slave...don't get the uproar over this...but I liked "Django"

  • @JayTeeDee | May 5, 2014 6:01 PMReply

    The joke was a little cringe worthy but I'm not going to front on her for going for it.

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